Back when I was getting my speaking business off the ground, I also made ends meet as a graphic designer. One day I was on the phone with a client, and I made a costly mistake.
Client: Could we try a different font on the site?
Me: Sure! *couple clicks* Refresh the page.
Client: Whoa, that’s amazing! *Does mental math. I’m paying him HOW MUCH, and he’s doing all this with a couple clicks?! That’s crazy! He’s robbing me! I need to make a million changes so I feel like I’m getting my money’s worth.
And the project dragged on for months.
Now, I accept 100% responsibility for my part in that dance! I did a poor job of managing expectations, setting up guidelines early on about acceptable number of revisions, etc. But, I do want to address the idea that “You can do this quickly, therefore you should charge me less for it.”
It’s a common mindset with people; especially people who trade their time for dollars. What they don’t realize yet, is it’s the very fact that it happens quickly that makes it so valuable!
You wouldn’t get on a plane and say,
“Because you’re getting me to New York in a couple hours, I should pay less than if I took this trip in a Greyhound!“
That’s absurd! The world is simple: you either spend time, or money. You can’t save both.
Nowadays I help my clients understand whether it’s for a performance, a consulting session, or training engagement, I charge a premium because of the fact that I can help them get the results they want FAST.
I might be on stage for only an hour, but I can connect with that audience in a way that nobody else can. People who see me speak literally can’t forget what they’ve seen me do, and that’s valuable to a company! I weave their message into my demonstrations and now the audience is fundamentally connected on an emotional level that nobody else in the world can help them feel, like I can.
“It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child.”
Think about a doctor performing surgery. He’s not getting paid thousands of dollars for the hour he’s in the operating room. He’s getting paid for the decade he spent learning how to get you healthy in an hour. That’s what Picasso was talking about. He could make a couple pen strokes and it’s worth $50,000 because he’s the person who dedicated his life to being PICASSO.
Wages vs. Value
What we’re really talking about is the difference between getting paid for doing something versus receiving fair compensation for the results you can provide for your client.
In your business, you absolutely have to focus on how valuable the results you help your clients get, and help them get there quickly that will help you charge what you’re worth. If, instead, you focus on what you’re doing (the actions you’re going to take), then you’re talking about trading time for dollars, and people want to get as many hours out of you as they can for your wages.
The Many Ways Thinking Can Go Wrong
Our brains are incredible creations. They run on about as much energy as the lightbulb in your fridge, yet it’s responsible for making sense out of millions of details all day, every day.
Things go well so often that it can be difficult to remember how wrong your brain can be more often than you might like to admit. This is why I love optical illusions & magic shows so much; they’re a friendly reminder that there are definite limitations to your cognitive abilities.
If you ignore that point in business, however, the results can be disastrous. Think about it: you could have the most amazing tech in the world, but it’s the people who are the most important part of your business. Understanding where things can go wrong is infinitely valuable, so here’s a short list of my favorite cognitive biases to be aware of.
We tend to remember, believe, or notice things that reinforce the things we already think about the world. This means we will ignore anything that challenges those beliefs.
In the business world this creeps up in beliefs about the the right strategies to marketing, employee retention, customer acquisition, and on down the list it goes.
This pairs nicely with Confirmation Bias. It’s what happens when you’re presented with information that completely disproves something you believe so you double down on your convictions.
You can show someone the right way to do something, but they’ll often dig in even deeper on the way they’ve been doing things.
“80% of all facts on the internet are made up on the spot.” ~Abraham Lincoln
This happens when someone wants an idea to appear more legitimate than it is, so they attribute it to someone trustworthy.
Correlation Is Not Causation
Post Hoc, Ergo Propter Hoc: “After the fact, therefore because of the fact.” This is the mistake of thinking that one thing happens before another, that the first thing causes the second. Just because two things are related, doesn’t mean they’re causal factors.
Sunk Cost Fallacy
Also known as the Gambler’s Fallacy because you’ve lost too much money to walk away, and you should stay in order to win it all back. “We’ve already come this far, would be a shame to stop now.”
Think of this as Confirmation Bias on steroids. This is ignoring thousands of scientific reports and believing a single experiment that suggests the contrary.
We’re all victims of poor judgement, specious reasoning, and illogical choices at times. The trick is to identify it as quickly as possible, and take the appropriate steps to get you back on track.
This can be difficult to identify on your own, so it’s important to get outside viewpoints on all areas of your business.
It’s That Time of Year Again: Time to Plan Your Office Holiday Party
Every office is different, every budget is different, and every company’s culture is different. But, there’s one thing that stays the same:
The holiday party is an incredible opportunity to foster employee happiness, show appreciation, and start the new year with a renewed sense of dedication & productivity. Here’s how.
What’s The Purpose?
Why are you thinking about planning a party in the first place? Is it because it’s tradition? Is it because you know people will be upset if you don’t have one?
Or, is it your way of showing your employees how much they mean to you?
Done correctly, a holiday party can be so much more than just a “because we have to” drain on your resources. I know it can take a lot of money to book a venue, plan the dinner, find entertainment (that’s not going to make you look bad), etc, but the holiday party can be one of the most important nights of a company’s year.
What Are You Doing?
Depending on the size of your company, certain plans are going to be more feasible than others. Smaller companies can afford to take everyone out for a fancy dinner and a show afterward, but as the company gets bigger, that becomes more and more difficult.
No matter what you plan on doing, here’s what it must accomplish:
- Show genuine appreciation for your employees and all their hard work. They’re spending their lives with your company, let them know how much that means to you & the company.
- Help connect the employees to the company in a fun, engaging, heartfelt, memorable, & meaningful way without being cheesy.
- Show gratitude & appreciation for the spouses of your employees. Think about it; they can either be support or undermine your employee’s dedication based on how much time you’re asking of your employees.
- Get different departments talking. It’s easy for sales to promise the world, and hand impossible projects off to operations to figure out. This can breed resentment and foster a lack of shared mission. If different groups aren’t talking to each other within 10 minutes at the party, it’s likely they’re not going to talk at all.
- Have everyone talking about how amazing the party was, and how they’re looking forward to next year.
What Not to Do.
Here are some things to avoid when planning your event that I’ve seen first-hand, or heard from clients’ previous parties. Please learn from their mistakes.
- Do not let Carl from accounting MC the event. Sure he’s a ham in the office, and says he would do a great job of speaking on behalf of your company, but that doesn’t mean he’s a fantastic public speaker. You’ll see all too soon as people’s eyes start glazing over as Carl rambles on without getting to any discernable point. He’s there because he likes attention; not because he’s focused on connecting your people with each other.
- Do not hire cheap. Sure, the budget is what the budget is, but hiring cheap will cost you more in the long run than you’re saving in the short term. A client once hired the cheapest entertainer she could find, and what happened next nearly lost her her job. He insulted the CEO, seemed unprepared, and was in short a nightmare. It wound up being an unforgettable party, but for all the wrong reasons. So, when you think about allocating your budget, forego the extra piece of cake that will be gone in 3 minutes, and spend a little extra on entertainment to make sure whoever you hire is dependable, reliable, professional, and squeaky clean.
- Don’t wait too long. The best entertainers are booked up months in advance. If you wait until the last minute, you’re only going to find people who are available for a reason. Your event, company, and job can’t afford that gamble. Start early to get the best results.
Don’t let one of the most important opportunities to connect with your employees slip through your fingers. Plan an event that highlights the accomplishments of your employees, and shows them genuine appreciation.
[/vc_column_text][us_cta title=”Let’s Start A Conversation” controls=”bottom” btn_link=”url:https%3A%2F%2Fwww.likeamindreader.com%2Fcontact%2F|||” btn_label=”Get In Touch”]I’d love to help you plan your holiday party or awards banquet. My passion is helping companies connect with their people, and with more than 400 events in the past 2 years alone, I have a unique perspective on what works, and what doesn’t work when people come together in celebration. Give me a call, or send me an email and let’s get started![/us_cta][/vc_column][/vc_row]
Don’t Forget the Human Element
A wonderful talk on the importance of not ignoring the human element from decisionmaking.
“Silver Bullet Thinking”
This is a term she used which piqued my interest. It’s usually those who think they can find a silver bullet that are most affected by them.
“Oracles never stand alone”
To gain insights, companies should never rely solely on data points; that information is ignoring the human element from its meaning. That’s where the role of the oracle’s team comes in. An oracle can look into the messy information, and their support team can conduct interviews to interpret the oracle’s intuitions.
That’s what makes what I do so powerful; I’m an “information oracle” of sorts.
What does your future hold? Let’s talk!
Psychology of Gaze
You’re out in the park catching up on Facebook on your phone when, out of nowhere, you feel the distinct sensation that someone is staring at you. You look up from your phone, and sure enough, you see someone looking right at you.
We’ve all had some form of this experience happen to us, and the weird part about it is how real the perception of their eyes on us is feels. We can actually feeeel them checking us out. And it’s spooky.
So, what’s going on?
You’re not actually feeling someone’s eyes on you. Not in a literal fashion, anyway. What you are feeling, however, is the awareness that someone else is aware of you.
Noticing when someone is noticing you has evolutionary benefit. If you’re prey, and you’re completely oblivious to the fact a predator has locked their eyes on you, chances are you’re not going to be around long enough to pass those “Does not notice when others notice me” genes onto the next generation.
Gaze As Communication
We not only understand someone’s gaze as their attention on us. Humans have evolved with a finely tuned sensitivity to what that gaze means. Ever had a conversation with a friend at a party using only your eyes? You know exactly what each one of you is saying, but there were no words spoken. That’s an incredible feat that few creatures are capable of performing.
Also, we’ve learned to understand if someone else is interested in something (as indicated by them looking at it), it’s probably important for us to look at it too. There’s a fun demonstration of this if you can get your friends to play along. Go to a busy sidewalk and have everybody look up. You’ll quickly notice how many strangers will see you, see you looking up, and then look up in that same direction very quickly. It happens without them noticing it, but it does happen.
Your brain picks up so much information every second that if you were consciously aware of it, you’d be totally overwhelmed. Plus, our brains run on about the same amount of energy as the light in your fridge, so it has to cut corners where it can. Our senses don’t do so much funneling info into our brains as they do filtering info out. Most of what you see is never noticed, and most of what you notice never conscious levels.
This means you notice a lot of details you’re never aware of.
It’s quite possible that your eyes noticed someone else’s gaze on you (which could mean predatory behavior), but it’s way deep down on your level of awareness. You’re focused on your phone, and the tiny detail of someone else’s eyes aren’t a clear and present danger. Your mind communicates on a low level by creating that subtle uneasy feeling that makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up.
Feels like a superpower, but it’s really the marvel of evolutionary biology keeping you on your toes.
There are some martial arts traditions that take this to the next level. They’re assuming that you’re not detecting someone’s gaze, but their intent. If you’re reading their intent, then you should be able to detect it without direct line of sight.
So they claim to test it.
With a sword.
The practitioner being tested kneels on the floor, and the person administering the test stands behind them with a sword raised over their head. The idea is for the swordman to summon “intent to do him harm” before swinging the sword down onto the head of the kneeling practitioner. The person being tested will “feel” the swordman’s intent to do great bodily harm, and roll out of the way before the sword can harm him.[vc_video ratio=”16-9″ align=”center” link=”https://youtu.be/7O0_CKdKX-c”]
This “intent to do harm” they’re feeling for has a word for it: “Sakki.”
I’d love to test it by putting a sword on a robot arm, and connect its movement to pushbutton. I would stand behind the person, summon the intent to do harm, and then only have to move my finger before the sword is activated.
My hunch is they’re perceiving a lot more than Sakki. Like sound.
We often make the mistake of thinking our minds direct our bodies, but that’s just not the case. As SF Zeigler likes to say, “Our bodies inform our minds.” And there’s a deep dive into exactly this dynamic in the book “You Are Not So Smart: A celebration of self delusion.” It’s a great read, and I highly recommend it.
Our bodies lead the action, our mind catches up, and since your mind didn’t order the movement, it feels like it’s someone else is responsible for it. It’s called the Ideomotor response, and it’s the secret to pendulum readings, dowsers, and any other kind of divination claptrap that relies on easily influenced contraptions.
Another point to consider is how often we feel like someone’s watching us when there’s nobody else around. It’s a false positive, and since it’s not a significant event, you forget it ever happened.
But when you feel it, look up, and see someone looking at you that feels much more significant, so you remember that experience.
When you think back on all the times you’ve felt like someone’s watching you, you only remember the times it happened, and completely forget the times it didn’t. Therefore, you get the perception that you’re always right.
You’re not. You’re only remembering the times you were right, and conveniently leaving out all the times you were wrong.
It’s human nature to want to be right. It’s not a conscious thing you’re doing, but you are doing it nonetheless.
Did you get weirded out looking at the picture I picked for this article? Probably so. Why is that?
There’s a reason the saying goes, “Character is what you do when you think nobody is watching.”
Experiments show that people behave more honestly when they’re being watched. Not only that, they behave more honestly when they think they’re being watched. Not only THAT, but they behave more honestly when there’s a poster of eyes on the wall nearby!
There’s an “honesty box” where people could put change in for the coffee they take. Above the coffee is a poster with the prices of coffee, coffee+cream, tea, etc. One version didn’t have eyes on it. The other version did.
The version with eyes resulted in 3 times as many donations! That’s a huge impact!
The eyes are a powerful communication device that we’ve evolved to use & understand on many levels below & beyond our conscious awareness. This isn’t a supernatural thing, it’s a subconscious thing.
Try to remember that before you start giving thousands of dollars to some guru who claims to be able to teach you how to dodge swords when you’re not looking. . .
Let’s talk about why this is the exact wrong thing to do.
Before we get into the time & money discussion, let’s try a little logic puzzle. This is a syllogism which should sound plausible to you:
All X’s are Z’s.
All Y’s are Z’s.
Therefore, some X’s are Y’s.
This logic puzzle seems like it makes sense; both X’s and Y’s are Z’s, so of course some Y’s and X’s are the same! But try this one out:
All dogs are animals.
All cats are animals.
Therefore, some dogs are cats.
Now it doesn’t make sense, does it?
(Unless you’re this dog. Probably is a cat, too.)
What’s the Problem?
When we are dealing with topics we know a lot about, we can immediately understand if something makes sense or not. When the logic problem I used above talks about dogs & cats, you were able to see, right away, that it makes no sense.
When we switch to an abstracted unit of measurement, like X’s and Y’s, then it’s more difficult to make an accurate judgement.
This is what happens when we talk about time and money.
Time = Money
In the logic problem, Dogs = X. Cats = Y. And this is the stuff we learn in first year algebra, but it’s frustrating because it’s taking something we understand, and then turns it into an abstraction.
When we think about Time = Money, it’s the same problem; we lose track of its real value.
Most people trade their time for dollars in the form of a paycheck or salary. Then, we spend those dollars on goods, services, or experiences.
When it comes to your business, you’ve worked hard for the cash you earn. You’ve poured your whole life into developing the skills you need to do the best you can for your clients.
That’s why taking any longer than you have to to solve a problem isn’t in your best interests, nor the interests of your clients.
When you decide to spend time on a problem instead of money, you’re essentially paying twice to fix it. You’ve already spent time to earn the money, but then are choosing to spend more time on something other than what makes you money.
This is time you could be spending helping your clients. This is time you could be spending with your family. This is time your could be spending at a conference learning more about what you’re already great at.
You can always get more money, but you can never get your time back. This is the heart of the problem for folks who would rather save a couple dollars by doing it themselves. As long as the money you make is tied to the time you spend getting it, spending time on a problem instead of dollars is costing you the most precious thing you have: your time.
Even when you’re broke, you’ll still have to decide how to spend the 86,400 seconds you have every day. Spend them wisely.
The next time you think, “I’ll save some money and do it myself” ask yourself if this is the best way to spend your time; not money. Don’t be “penny smart, and a dollar foolish” as the saying goes.
If you’re still trading time for dollars, this is doubly true for you, too!
(Eventually you can uncouple your income from the time you’re spending, and that’s a conversation for another day. . .)
Get In Touch
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Growing up, one of my favorite things was going to the grocery store with my Mom. We always made time to check out the magazine aisle, and I’d go straight to the skateboard publications.
Every birthday and Christmas I’d ask for one, and eventually my parents gave me one from Wal-Mart. I spent weeks riding it up and down our street trying to do the most fundamental trick: the Ollie.
The skater jumps up, and the board follows. When done properly, it looks like pure magic.
I could never get it right! I tried jumping while moving. I tried jumping while standing still. I tried facing left. I tried facing right.
I fell down more times than I can count.
Eventually I figured it out: while the board was fine to get around on, it wasn’t designed to do tricks. I wasn’t the problem; it was the board’s fault! Stupid skateboard!
Until One Day
My brother (4 years older than me) and one of his friends came home after school. His friend asked if he could try my board, so I said yes.
He proceeds to do trick after trick. Ollies, kick-flips, you name it he could do it.
I was stunned, and that was the instant I learned a valuable lesson:
Just because I didn’t know how to use a tool doesn’t mean it’s not capable of doing its job.
I see this all the time in my consulting. People are convinced that:
- Email marketing doesn’t work
- Facebook ads are useless
- Twitter is dead
- Nobody reads blogs anymore
- LinkedIn never leads to anything
- The era of making phone sales is dead
And so on down the list it goes with people who may have dabbled in a particular approach, and failed to get results. It’s easier to believe the tool is broken instead of admitting their lack of skills in execution.
I continued skateboarding for years after that afternoon (until I had a massive wipeout that left scars I still have today). I never really got good at doing tricks, but it was a fun way to get around campus when I went to college.
What I didn’t do, though, is ever blame a tool for my lack of skills again.
Do you have a tool, technique, or strategy that you love using that other people think is done for? I’d love to hear about it!
In my work, I have the unique pleasure of helping a veritable cornucopia of different people. There are entrepreneurs, full time employees who want to start a side hustle, corporations that want to connect with their employees and prospective customers. Every single situation is unique, and it’s that kind of variety that I thrive on. Every day is different, and I love it.
I’ve noticed, however, that the people who I don’t work with seem to have the same things in common, so I thought I’d share those here as a way to help you see inside the mind of someone who isn’t actually ready to make the changes necessary for massive success.
Without further ado, here are my client disqualifiers:
Excuses are boring. They’re not real. Nobody cares about them but the person using them as a justifier for lack of action. Change makers decide what they want, and then they go get it. Excuse makers, however, will find a million reasons why not to do something, and my clients focus on the one reason to do something.
Yeah, it is hard work. No, it’s not easy. Yes, you’ve had a lifetime of living one way, and it’s gotten you this far. To get a different result, you’re going to have to overcome years and years of self programming. It’s going to feel unnatural. That’s the point of growth! But complaining about it isn’t going to make it any better. It only further entrenches the behaviors that have gotten you what you don’t want. So stop it.
Being skeptical is important. You should test everything. Evaluate claims. Don’t take anything on blind faith alone. I get it. But, what I don’t get is the excessive doubt, pessimism, and cynicism. I will not dance for you. I’m not going to jump through your hoops. I’m here to help you get results; not be your emotional crutch to compensate for the lack of internal work you refuse to do.
If you want someone to make you feel special, get a dog. If you want results, come to me. People who are more interested in being overly protected aren’t ready to for the real work that success requires. I can’t protect you from challenging your beliefs. I can’t do the work for you. I can only show you what you have to do to get what you want. Don’t get mad at the results you didn’t get from the work you didn’t do because you’re uncomfortable.
Show up late? Forget an appointment? If you don’t care about your success, I care less. I make time for my clients. I show up early. I put in the effort. That’s part of being a professional. I care about my clients. I care about getting them results. And I can’t do that if they’re not taking it seriously. You literally can’t pay me enough to care more than you when you refuse to show up.
What I Can Do
I can teach you how to leverage your fundamental psychology to get what you want. I can show you how to build a brand that resonates with your clients. I can help you connect with the people you need to talk with. I will show up. I will be present. I will care.
What I Can’t Do
I will not lie to you. I will not cater to the behaviors, beliefs, and ideas that have kept you locked in prison. I can’t take the blame for your failure to act.
But This Isn’t You
Hopefully nothing in this article resonates. Hopefully you don’t see yourself here. Hopefully this is a strange and peculiar post that makes you wonder if there really are people like that in the world.
I’m a professional mind reader, but that’s not my true superpower; it’s paying attention.
In high school my debate teacher asked us to try a simple experiment: think of something boring for 2 minutes. We picked a door knob. He started the timer and within 4 seconds it seemed like my mind had pinged from one thing to the next so fast I wasn’t thinking of anything even remotely resembling a door knob.
“Monkey mind,” he said when I asked him what the hell happened.
I’d wager you have a serious case of monkey mind, too.
Did You Drink the Kool-Aid?
See, there’s there’s cult of multitasking. People think they’re good at doing several things at the same time, but the research doesn’t back it up. It reminds me of a quote my sweetie shared with me when she said when she was going to train for a triathlon:
Why be good at one thing when you can be shitty at three?
She gets it.
Multitasking is a myth. You can’t do it. You think you can, buuuuuuut you’re actually awful at it. Not only are you awful at multitasking, it means you’re substantially worse at the two (or more) things you’re trying to do.
I say “trying to do” because you’re half assing two things instead of whole-assing one thing, as Ron Swanson says.[vc_video ratio=”16-9″ align=”center” link=”https://youtu.be/zl-HalherjQ”]
3 Negative Results
1. Say Bye to Your Mental Reserves
You’re not actually doing two things at the same time. Instead, you’re rapidly switching from one task to the other. Every time you go from one to the other and back again, you’re wasting precious mental resources that are focused on the task of switching and not on executing.
This is a lot of energy expended with no tangible benefit.
2. More Time Wasted Equals Less Time Available
Since you’re spending all the time switching back and forth, you’re spending less time on the task at hand. This means that the task time you would normally spend on a single task is spread over more real clock time.
This is the complete opposite of efficient. Plus, if you’re looking for that “flow state” feeling where you’re in the groove, that takes (at minimum) about 20 minutes to get into. How long are you on task before you switch over to check text messages? I’d say every .5 minutes? Not nearly long enough to bring out your best work.
3. Your Thinking Is Bad, And You Should Feel Bad
Since you’re doing a lot of unnecessary work when you’re constantly switching back and forth, you fool yourself into thinking you’ve done more work than you have. Your brain says, “I’m super tired from all this work, and since feeling tired is the result of hard work I must have worked really hard on these two things! Yay me!”
And it’s lying to you! Your brain is conveniently editing out all the time between those tasks spent daydreaming, acclimating to the other task, or whatever other thing it’s doing that’s not productive focus.
OK Mr. Doom & Gloom. What Do I Do About It?
The good news is, like most human things, distractions exist on a spectrum. They range from barely there to BIG FRACKING DEAL.
At the BFD end of the spectrum is texting someone while you drive. Not good. Don’t do it.
At the Not A BFD end of the spectrum is just the awareness that you might get a text from someone. You’re not actually acting on anything, but that thought is occupying space in your brain meats.
Just the fact you could do something is on the slippery slope of eating away at your attention.
This is why so many people swear by browser plugins that limit the websites you can visit during the time you want to be productive. How often have you gotten tired of Facebook, close the tab, and then immediately open a new tab to check Facebook?
Install any number of browser extensions to break that automatic behavior loop to improve your focus.
Turn off your notifications on your cell phone when you want to be productive. And I’m not just talking about putting it on stun. Really, truly, turn off all forms of notifications. Or, better yet, put it on silent and then put it in another room.
Constraint vs Restraint
The more you engineer your environment to not even tempt you in the first place, the less you’re likely to engage in the tempting behavior.
This is the nature of constraint.
If, however, you’re relying solely on your willpower, you’re relying on restraint, and that sucks. Not doing the thing never feels as good as doing the thing.
There are only so many cupcakes I can say no to before my restraint wears off, and I give in. Compare that to not even having cupcakes around in the first place. First is restraint. No good. Second is an environmental constraint. More good.
Practice Makes Permanent
The more you practice focusing on one thing at a time, the better you get at controlling your attention. This is the way to tame the monkey mind.
One of the greatest compliments I got was a from a friend of mine who I met at a science conference. He told me a couple years afterward that he was impressed with how I was able to completely focus on our conversation instead of constantly looking over his shoulder for “more important” people to talk with. (You know the deal; the networker who is constantly on the prowl for the higher status person to glom onto.)
The fact that I was completely 100% attentive & present impressed him so much he booked me to speak at a science conference he organizes in California.
Not only will practicing your focus improve the quality of work at your job, but it will improve the quality of relationships you can build when people feel like you’re actually totally present.
You can’t do it. Stop trying. Start using your superpower of sustained, singular focus instead!
Need help? I can help you with that. Let’s chat!